Worship leader Matt Papa had gone on mission trips in his early twenties, but he recalls how several factors in his life “collided with each other” to give him a greater passion for the unreached—one of which was his marriage to Lauren, who was serving with Pioneers when they met.
“And at the same time I also started realizing that much of my zeal for ministry up to that time was built on my desire to use God for my kingdom, not on His desire to use me for His,” Matt recalls. “I was busy doing stuff, but my vision was small. So I ‘pledged,’ for the rest of my life, to leverage my music and my ministry for the sake of something great—something lasting—the glory of God among all nations.”
That pledge has shaped Matt’s worship music, much of which centers on the themes of the glory of God and global needs. His most recent endeavor is to release a single titled “The Reward of His Suffering,” and donate all the proceeds from its sales to several missions organizations—one of which is Pioneers. The inspiration for the new song came when Matt heard the story of 18th century Moravian missionaries Johann Leonhard Dober and David Nitschmann der Bischof:
“When the men first heard about the island, they were at church on an ordinary Sunday morning and the pastor was speaking about a place in the West Indies where there had never been any gospel witness. He told of a man who lived on an island who was an atheist slave owner with about 3,000 slaves, all whom would live and die without a chance to ever hear about Jesus.
“Deeply disturbed by what they heard, these two men, in their early twenties, made the decision to go this place to reach these slaves with the gospel. Their plan? Sell themselves into slavery so that they could be among the slaves. These guys weren't heading out on a short-term mission trip. These men left to go and live and suffer as slaves and they had no idea if they would ever come back. Their families and friends in large part were against their decision, and yet John and David prepared to go.
“And so the story goes. The two young men arrived at the pier to board their ship, their families and friends who were there to say goodbye all sure they would never see them again. The men boarded the ship and set out. As the gap between the shore and the ship widened, the two men linked arms, and one of them raised his hand and shouted across the gap their final words, ‘May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!’ ”
To watch Matt tell the story, and for links to purchase the song, visit thereward.org.